My relationship with fitness hasn’t always been very thoughtful. Until my early 20s, I never really thought about it. I grew up in an active family, played sports in high school, and skied and sailed in college. I was always outside, busy, and active.
In my 20s, I was more interested in having fun (read: happy hours and champagne brunches) than working out. I still exercised, but it wasn’t a focus. I was lucky that I could always pull it together when I needed to get in shape, but for the most part, I didn’t have to worry about it, and I didn’t.
Turning 30 seemed to change that. Suddenly, I could no longer just eat whatever I wanted and walking to the Metro no longer cut it for my daily “exercise.” I tried to make exercise a priority but I was so busy with work and life that it didn’t really happen. Then I got pregnant. So much for fitness.
During my first pregnancy, the extent of my exercise was walking to get frozen custard (3-4 times a week). I did prenatal yoga every Sunday and enjoyed the support of being in a room with other women, but I didn’t break a sweat. After R was born, I did nothing for nine months. I was too tired, too stressed, and didn’t feel like I had time to add exercise into the mix. Then something changed.
I made fitness a priority. I started slowly, making a point to walk with R and Sully (our dog) every night after work. Then I started going to the gym during lunch. I kept my expectations realistic: 30 minutes of cardio, several times a week. I tried spinning. The first class kicked my butt and I could barely walk for days, but I went back. Then I started meeting several girlfriends for Saturday morning spinning – we’d sweat, then we’d grab coffee and catch up. Maybe obvious, but it took me a long time to realize that exercising didn’t need to be a chore. It was actually fun. And for me, doing it with friends made me want to exercise more.
By the time I got pregnant with MK, I was exercising 5-6 times a week and feeling GREAT. I kept it up throughout my entire pregnancy and was chomping at the bit to get back at it after I gave birth. I thought, I was in such good shape before I got pregnant, I’ll be back in shape in no time! Unfortunately, I overdid it. I was so fixated with getting back to where I was (never a good idea) that I didn’t listen to my body. I did sit-ups, planks, and more sit-ups and still looked five-months pregnant five months after giving birth. I was so demoralized. I thought there was something wrong and felt sorry for myself.
After some research, I realized this problem is common to many women, especially after multiple child births. It’s called diastasis recti (DR), and it happens when the connective tissue between the abdominal muscles stretches, resulting in a protruding stomach also known as “mummy tummy.” According to wiki: ” Women are more susceptible to develop diastasis recti when over the age of 35, high birth weight of child, multiple birth pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies. Additional causes can be attributed to excessive abdominal exercises after the first trimester of pregnancy.” Um, yes, that’s me.
I’ll save my musings on DR for another post but needless to say, realizing I had this condition forced me to pursue an entirely different approach to fitness. I now try to exercise at least five days a week, but my workouts aren’t long. Having two small kids and (finally!) working full time, I often don’t have extra time to burn getting to the gym, and the air quality and crazy streets of Hanoi make running outside a challenge, so I often work out at home. Unless I’m on vacation (see above)!
In addition to banging out a quick workout, I also spend my Friday afternoons making nerdy fitness infographs on Piktochart…
Here are a bunch of great fitness options I’ve found that are short and sweet, but still make me sore the next day. Perfect for people short on time and/or outdoor space, or for those of you that travel frequently. Please share your additions in the comments below or on FB!
YogaGlo – this is my husband’s and my go-to workout. Sort by teacher, type, duration, level, etc. There’s something for everyone. (Our favorite teacher is Tiffany Cruikshank – you can follow her on Instagram for daily updates.)
Yoga Medicine – Tiffany Cruikshank’s yoga/wellness company. Yoga, lifestyle, wellness, training, etc.
Cosmic Kids Yoga – For the kids. Free, fun, creative yoga classes fon YouTube. Perfect for rainy days.
Couch to 5K app – I never thought I could run a mile, let alone a 5k. This app motivated me to do it!
Jillian Michaels – her 20 minute workouts really work. I was skeptical but it kicks my butt. I have 30 Day Shred and the Kickbox FastFix – love both. Easy to download on iTunes if you’re on the road and need a quick workout.
Fitbit – if you’re competitive like me, this will keep you moving. Not a substitute for exercise but a good reminder to take the stairs or walk home from work.